Per Mertesacker says he’s enjoying the tranquillity of Arsenal’s training facilities and stressed again that moving to England was right for his career despite admitting his game has yet to fully develop due to his lengthy injury last season.
Sitting down with homeland press having returned to Germany on international duty, the 28-year-old spoke warmly about life both on and off the pitch in London.
“You are not bothered by anyone on the Arsenal grounds,” Mertesacker said when comparing his current surroundings to those at former club Werder Bremen. “You can get into your car relaxed – no fans, no press.
“In Germany, it is not like that. If you have a bad run, you feel the bad run bringing high pressure as everyone keeps asking you about it.
“You feel even worse. You always have to react to negative things, and you don’t want to do that.
“When I arrived at Arsenal, the team had just been beaten 8-2 by Manchester United. In Germany, it would have taken a week to get over it with the media. In England, you did not notice anything there.”
Talking about the manner in which training sessions unfold under Arsene Wenger’s eagle-eyed guidance, the centre-back continued:
“It is very [different], we put great emphasis on the short passing game and you have absolute peace and serenity because no one breaks out in haste. However, it’s expected that you always be highly focused on the task.”
Having earned plaudits for the calm authority he has exuded in the centre of defence so far this season, you might have thought Mertesacker would answer in the affirmative when asked if his game has developed in England. However, citing his fitness problems, the player maintained that he was still looking to develop.
“I want this to be the case, but I was injured for a long time so not yet. The change though was absolutely correct for me. The type of football, the difficulty that I’m faced with it is a move that will bring me further in the future.”
After a tough first season which saw him struggle to earn a regular first team starting berth, it’s fair to say the BFG has been the most consistent and impressive centre-back on the books this year. Few believed a player of such ungainly physical standing could cope with the pace of life in the Premier League but his ability to read the game has certainly turned heads this term and won over many critics. Long may it continue.